Fasting and Self Control

by Judi Chow

A friend went on a fast for three days and three nights.

My flat-mate just went on a twenty-one day liquid fast.

Another friend went on a forty-day lunch fast.

I know a pastor who went on a forty-day water fast.

Jesus went on a forty-day fast.

I tried to fast for one meal… and my hands were shaking, my feet numbing, my head hurting, my mouth watering, and my stomach growling. I just can’t concentrate on the purpose of fasting- to pray! Please note, I said fast, not skip a meal. It is easy for me to skip a meal or two or three. It often happens as I am in the middle of something so engrossing that I forget about eating. On a few occasions, I needed to fast or abstain from food for 12 hours or so to do a medical check up. From my personal experience, intentional fasting for spiritual purposes requires discipline and self-control.

Traditionally, fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Actually, it can be anything that distracts one from getting close to the heart of God, such as internet surfing or as simple as talking to people. I was at a retreat center where they emphasized the practice of silence even during meals. It was a good enforced discipline in denying oneself from talking to people so one can listen to God better. No matter whether it is withholding from eating, drinking, looking, or talking, our sole purpose of fasting should be trying to focus our heart, mind, body, and spirit to be in tune with God.

I don’t hear missionaries talk much about fasting. I am not saying they don’t, it’s just that when one does fast—everything else needs to slow down to take second place, including ministry! Fasting might seem to be a luxury instead of a priority. After all, missionaries need the food to give us physical strength for visitation or to plan evangelistic events! Missionaries are always lacking of time, how can we afford to be still to fast and feel weak! I do believe fasting is a lost art of spiritual discipline that has been stereotyped into being just for the super-spiritual giants. Don’t be fooled by it, for it is in weakness we seek God’s strength! Beware, when we want to fast, the devil always tries to find ways to keep us from getting close to God, before and/ or during the fast. Remember Jesus’ fasting in the desert? Can we try to fast one meal a week and dedicate that time of eating to come before God- to adore Him, praise Him, listen to Him. I think if we do that, Jesus will be pleased, because we are following in His steps.

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2 thoughts on “Fasting and Self Control

  1. hahahahaha~~~~these words really make me laugh-“tried to fast for one meal… … and my stomach growling.”:)在神学院的第三年,我发现,禁食在我们学生当中“流行”起来:)很多弟兄都尝试禁食21天或40天,只吃流质的食物。当中,有一名弟兄,我感觉他40天禁食结束后变骄傲了,他觉得自己和耶稣一样属灵(呵呵,属灵的骄傲:)

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